Patrick Williams Sunshine Coast Daily 30th September 2012
HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars have been scammed online from a Currimundi radiologist by an international crime syndicate.
Specialist Women's Imaging Centre and Coastal Medical Imaging managing director Dr Sean O'Connor said a "six-figure sum" of personal and business funds had been syphoned from his Commonwealth Bank accounts in recent weeks.
It began after his mobile phone number was stolen and used to place a number of calls to Afghanistan. They then moved on to his bank account.
Before leaving his personal and business accounts empty, the careful and calculating cyber crooks even impersonated the doctor and tried to fool his own wife when she called to confront them.
Sunshine Coast IT experts say Dr O'Connor's situation is not rare and there has been a rise in recent times of micro and small businesses being targeted because their cyber security cannot match up to that of big business.
Dr O'Connor said a piece of malware that was unknowingly downloaded on to his personal computer was used to watch him make bank transactions. He is warning others to be vigilant when banking online.
"They've totally stolen my ident-ity. I went pale when they told me the money was gone," he said.
"All of my money has been transferred out of our accounts. Every single account we have is now at this address in Sydney, probably some abandoned building, they tell us.
"The bank say we won't lose our money, but it's frightening. You think you're secure but you're not."
The malware downloaded on to Dr O'Connor's home computer gave the criminals a sliver of information that allowed them to take advantage of the situation.
Dr O'Connor has been told it may take up to six weeks before funds can be returned.
Until then he is borrowing money to pay staff and bills.
Dr O'Connor is wondering why there are not more safety checks in place at both Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank to stop this type of scam from occurring.
"These are the questions that are of more concern to us," he said.
Myles McNamara, of Camelon IT, said Dr O'Connor's case was one of several he had seen on the Coast in recent times.
"There's definitely been a spate of them," Mr McNamara said.
"I think one of the key things is to remember that businesses need to make sure they have all bases cov-ered in terms of security of their network.
"A number of times it's actually initiated by a trusted source. It's generally not the traditional way malware gets in."
Mr McNamara said micro and small businesses were often seen as soft targets because they did not have the budget for high-end corporate security.
"Everything is done electronic-ally these days and businesses live and die by computer systems," he said.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Auction, shopping: can be rigged by scammers or used to target you for a scam outside of the auction site.
Domain name renewal: a fake renewal notice for your actual domain name, or a misleading invoice for a domain name very similar to your own, can be sent to you.
Spam (junk mail) offers: Spam emails, SMS or MMS usually offer free goods or "prizes", very cheap products or promises of wealth. Responding to spam messages can result in problems for your computer and your bank account.
Modem jacking: Modem-jacking scams secretly change the phone number dial-up modems use to access the internet, to an overseas or premium-rate phone number. You could pay hundreds of dollars extra.